The Story Wars of Hot Political Issues

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Further on the story war front, these two videos are self-explanatory.

They explain a recent MAJOR shift in audience expectations.

And an earlier video:

As I wrote elsewhere:

15 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

... the new Generation Z teenagers (people born after 2000) are considering the Millennials as control freak grown-ups who want to suck all the joy out of their lives, so they are gravitating toward the new conservatism (more like conservative libertarianism). And the Millennials and left-wing folks in general are having a cow as they lose control of--and get ridiculed by--the young.

A good example of a difference in perspective concerns ugliness. Pop culture today celebrates ugly people in the name of social justice, but they do it with a toxic twist. Beautiful people (the icons and heroes) show they are ugly (and vulgar) inside, and ugly fat people show they are even uglier. (Villains excepted because they are supposed to be that way. :) ) It's almost like they want to eradicate inner beauty and good looks from human nature and human aspirations. A much healthier approach is right over the horizon where beauty is celebrated again and ugly fat people (or, hell, ugly skinny people), when they appear, come with hearts of gold. They are beautiful inside. 

All this is happening way faster than I expected. And it's happening for real, not just being manipulated from the top down by behavioral scientists allied with propagandists.

The truth is the bad guys can manipulate human nature for a short time, but it's near impossible to turn that into evolution. Humans will always go back to being human. And that makes me feel good. The story wars are critical in defining culture, but far less toxic in the long term than I had imagined.


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Carol, I prefer to discuss the why and how of what is being done rather than try to play the game of besmirch Glenn, defend Glenn. For the record though, Glenn is not horrified that this is being done

Look Michael, I like and respect you and you know that. Hell, I love you like a brother which as a Stuart you surely are. It is when you appear to not respect my critical thinking, or even critical t

It's a hoot watching people who are all style and zero substance criticizing this masterful use of aesthetics. J

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On 2/12/2017 at 11:20 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Notice that Rand's speeches always occurred when there were several ticking clocks running before disaster struck and the stakes had been ramped way up. There was a lot of stuff that still had to happen after the speech and readers wanted to get to it. The speeches were also personal--aimed at the bad guys in the story. Going from memory, they generally had the following beats (in this sequence):

1. You suck.
2. Here's why. Look what you are doing.
3. Here's how to get the damn thing right.
4. btw - Before I forget, fuck you.

Well... maybe Rand's jargon was a little different.


But I bet if you look, you will find these four beats in this sequence in almost every fictional speech she ever wrote.

So if you are a writer and want to include a speech in a story, (to use an old Hollywood storytelling formula) run your hero (or heroes) up a tree, throw rocks at him, set the tree on fire, then have him give the speech.

After that, get him out of the tree, of course. :) 

If anyone thinks this is disrespectful to Rand, I invite you to look at any fictional Rand speech.

My language is colorful, but you will see these four beats. Merely replace a different form of speech:

XXXXX is evil, you say? YYYY is evil? And you wonder why it's all falling apart?

(In other words, you suck.)


I'm going to look deeper, but off the top of my head, I think a variation on this runs throughout her essays. But instead of starting with "you suck," it changes to "they suck." 


I'm not evaluating anything with this, just noticing. Evaluation-wise, without doing any deep thinking about it yet, the four beats seems to be a very good rhetorical template. 


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On 2/12/2017 at 11:38 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

And an earlier video:

Maybe I should have posted this video separately. I think it's an enormously important identification of how post-modernism has invaded pop culture, which has helped turn off people's evaluative faculties and allowed them to accept outrageous moral equivalencies as the new normal.

Rand often said philosophy rules the culture. (I paraphrase, but that's what she always meant.) This is a stellar example of how it works.

On a story wars level to grab power, nothing could be more important than how to prepare an audience to accept the absurd as the ordinary. We can thank trickle-down post-modernism for that. Just make a bunch of enticing stories that don't make sense by packaging intellectual garbage in low-level instinctual emotions so they have visceral appeal. Voila. You have softened up the public for your power-grab by getting them to think that, even though it doesn't make any sense, it's ordinary and normal.

Another person who saw something similar is Victor Davis Hanson. See here:

Postmodernism By Another Name

He takes the idea further into journalism.

He, also, thinks fake news is able to leave its mark on implementing progressive social policies because post-modernism has weakened the public's evaluative faculty. He gives a ton of examples and the article is well worth reading.

The following quote stood out to me.


... the fake news mindset ultimately can be traced back to the campus. Academic postmodernism derides facts and absolutes, and insists that there are only narratives and interpretations that gain credence, depending on the power of the story-teller. In other words, white male establishment reactionaries have set up fictive rules of "absolute" truth and "unimpeachable" facts, and they have further consolidated their privilege by forcing the Other to buy into their biased and capricious notions of discriminating against one narrative over another.

The work of French postmodernists-such as Michael Foucault and Jacques Derrida that mesmerized academics in the 1980s with rehashed Nietzschean banalities about the absence of facts and the primacy of interpretation-has now been filtered by the media to a nationwide audience. If the mythical exclamation "hands up, don't shoot" was useful in advancing a narrative of inordinate police attacks against African Americans, who cares whether he actually said it? And indeed, why privilege a particular set of elite investigatory methodologies to ascertain its veracity?

As a nice touch, Hanson mentioned that the people promoting the fake news have contempt for the press that spreads their stories.


No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes. Ben Rhodes cynically bragged about how the Obama administration had sold the dubious Iran deal through misinformation picked up by an adolescent but sympathetic media (for which Rhodes had only contempt). As Rhodes put it, "The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That's a sea change. They literally know nothing."

Translated, that meant that Rhodes and his team fed false narratives about the Iran Deal to a sympathetic but ignorant media, which used its received authority to report those narratives as "truth"-at least long enough for the agreement to be passed before its multitudinous falsehoods and side-agreements collapsed under their own weight. "We created an echo chamber," Rhodes bragged to the New York Times: "They [reporters] were saying things that validated what we had given them to say."

Obama's healthcare advisor Jonathan Gruber likewise saw the virtues of fake news in pushing a political agenda. Gruber assumed that the public, not just the media, was stupid and easily conned: "Lack of transparency," he said, "is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever."

Again, the term "fake news" is best applied to mainstream media reporting of fantasies as facts that are demonstrably not true-and are probably known to be not true, but are thought to help advance a desired progressive political or cultural agenda.

The term "useful idiots" comes to mind.


Where have I heard that term before?



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It just occurred to me why the ruling class elites are using their media to promote the narrative that Russia is the reason Trump won the presidency. This story is so silly, I get irritated when I keep reading the mainstream press go on and on and on and on and on and on about it.

Why do they insist on telling this story as their weaponized propaganda in the mainstream story wars when they have abandoned the other storylines they floated as the reason they lost the election?

Here are just a few they abandoned:
-- Trump supporters are bigots (especially racists, and Nazis, and misogynists, etc. etc. etc.).
-- Trump supporters are stupid.
-- Trump turned the election into a dumbed down reality show.
-- Trump lost the popular vote so we should change the rules and just give her the office.
-- Comey screwed Clinton with FBI statements.
-- Clinton focused on substance instead of personal narrative.
-- There was voter fraud needing a recount (until the recount happened and Trump gained voters :) ).
-- An alt-right fake news machine.

And on and on and on...

None of these narratives got any traction with the public, and neither is the Russian narrative getting traction, yet they keep pumping it hard.


The lightbulb went off.

Now I know.

And they are misfiring again.

The American people (except for the fringe) are not afraid of President Trump.

You need a villain to fear if you want a story to take and there is nothing to fear about Trump. Notice that the storyline of Trump having his fingers on the nuclear code sinks into oblivion in the mainstream culture every time it's floated. People in general just don't fear him.

There's also nothing to fear in any of the narratives above. There's no James Bond villain.

But Russia has traditionally been feared. Cold war. Nukes. Spying. And so on.

I think they are latching onto this Russian narrative to see if they can make Americans fear Russia again. They want to resurrect the Cold War. But it's fizzling except in the paid-for corrupt globalist media. 

So I seriously doubt this story will turn into a long-term thing. But at least in terms of storytelling, now I understand why they keep pushing it even though it's lame to most people.

It's too late for the ruling class to successfully propagandize this story, though. I doubt they can ever make current Russia into a James Bond villain equal to the public perception of George Soros. 

Now there's a James Bond villain if ever there was one. Soros even talks like a James Bond villain. Put a picture of Putin shirtless on a horse right beside him and look. It's no contest.



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Michael wrote: You need a villain to fear if you want a story to take and there is nothing to fear about Trump. Notice that the storyline of Trump having his fingers on the nuclear code sinks into oblivion in the mainstream culture every time it's floated. People in general just don't fear him. end quote

Rush was saying he thought Obama would use TV to dominate the party and airways but so far he has not. When Obama left, I exhaled a sigh of relief. I still keep extra water on hand but I have always done that with my well water. And I am still ready to duck at a large flash like we used to do when I was a kid during the early Cold War . . . but (naughty alert) the spook is gone and now I trust Ghost Buster Trump.

Man, but Bebe and Trump are getting along well, with some genuine laughs.


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Brant wrote: If they can't intimidate Trump they'll intimidate Congress. But the biggie is Trump himself. They intend to keep ruling by proxy. it's all out war end quote

Well said. Rush at 12:45 is saying the same thing. There is an Obama proxy, shadow government within the federal bureaucracy as well as the propaganda press and they are relentlessly trying to get Trump supporters to think, there is no way Trump can win. And to lose hope, BUT it won’t work. I hope everyone will do what they can to avoid the lame stream media. Morning Joe has said Kellyanne Conway is banned from the show for calling MSNBC fake news. We should veto that by never turning that show on. Speak badly about them.

Back to Rush. Humana, which I have as supplemental insurance, is going to abandon Obama Care at the end of the year. The ACA is imploding at a faster pace. Lintsy Graham is on the radio saying we need to get to the bottom of all things Trump and his ties to Russia. What a rotten asshole. Fake news: “Lintsy’s Graham’s black lover stabs him in the grouch. Ouch!”

I wish there were a way America could show its support for The President. Rallies are an expensive waste of time and I don’t use social media other than email. We need some activists like with the early 2000’s Tea Party.


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  • 1 month later...

This thread is about story wars, but dayaamm!

How about wholesale brainwashing warmups? Pre-trance induction?

For over 30,000 people on one conference call?

From Lifezette:

Left-Wing Activists Prepare for ‘Resistance’ with Breathing Exercises

The video in that article doesn't embed, but go there and listen to it (meaning it's a video, but basically an audio with a picture--a little over three minutes).

That's what it sounds like.

Double dayaamm!

Big brother is on the march!


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The following video dissects late night TV comedians and how they promote their political agendas.

Although it does not specifically broach story, it does cover some essential story elements.

Humor, for instance, can be a great form of triggering a primal fear in the audience of being an outcast, a hated (or at least a repudiated and scorned) outcast at that. In O-Land, it is not normal to acknowledge such innate primal fears, but neuroscience and modern psychology are more and more proving that these things exist in the brain at birth (even pre-birth), sometimes in seed-like form where they mature and ripen as the infant grows, or pure fear that instantly triggers cortisol and other fear-contributing neurochemicals as is. 

As to story, during a late-night comedy routine, the viewer is invited to transport himself or herself into a hero, a member of a tribe who laughs at the enemy.

We all do this all the time because we evolved this trait as a survival mechanism. Insider groups are safer than individuals in the wild. And modern humans have tamed this urge to insult and make it fun without being toxic through fans taunting each other at sports, put-downs in action and comedy fiction, and so on.

However, the late-night comedians in this video manage to stay right on the line between lighthearted play and literal bloodshed. They attract by pretending to be cultural fun and nothing more, but they include a toxic political agenda of real hatred, which ultimately makes people spit on each other in loathing and escalate to violence.

This form of "cultural fun" is an incubator for blind self-righteous rage--this is what blind self-righteous rage looks like in its seed-like state, before it ripens.

This video is a great examination of how to conduct a story war. These pied pipers laugh their audience into real outrage over political targets.

I wish it had included examples of demonizing through humor (the kind that fosters hatred, as opposed to a sassy kind of benevolence) from the perspective of other agendas and political angles, but in today's culture, you take what you get when something good appears and try to extract the most value from it.

Anyway, my purpose is different than that of Alexander Villena and Luther Heinrich (the real names behind the "1791" YouTube channel. I wish to understand the story-war mechanism itself so I can avoid being influenced by it (and maybe even help defuse it) wherever it may come from when it goes toxic, and 1791 wishes to defend a conservative freedom-loving viewpoint and way of life against political attack. I happen to agree with 1791's purpose, but that is not the core reason I am studying this stuff and sharing my thoughts about it with you. My initial approach is to correctly identify how things like this work. I can judge all I want afterward and know I'm on solid ground.

Incidentally, this video is not only on YouTube. I first saw it on Real Clear Politics Video (see here), which means it is getting mainstream exposure.


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What a coincidence.

I did not plan following the post above with the content of this one. It just happened that way.

What's the deal? Well, it's about a late night comedian, again. But this time it's not about laughing people into an outrage. It's about crying them into one.

Jimmy Kimmel is the storyteller. 

Ben Shapiro is brutal on opening the curtains and showing the rot behind him, too, with logic and identification. You normally have to fight a story war with another story because of the emotions involved, but Shapiro managed to use reason and explanation and still be effective. I don't know how effective he will be in the long run within the culture. Not very, I imagine, so I don't think this is the best way to fight this kind of story war. But it's useful as all get out for helping to show Kimmel's propaganda template. 

Let's step back from the issue itself and see what is going on in the background persuasion-wise and story-wise.

A normal persuasion message goes like this:

1. You get a person's attention (danger, incongruity, etc.).
2. You bond with the person (using emotion).
3. You present your message (this is where reason enters and you mix it with emotion).
4. You tell the person(s) what you want them to do.

This is obviously for "cold" messages, meaning you are not already interacting with the person. The person is coming across your message, whether video, audio, print, or even spoken live, by showing up at that moment. This is called "cold" as in "cold calling."

Kimmel uses this persuasion template with a variation. He starts by getting our attention with a discussion of the recent shooting in Las Vegas. Then he bonds by almost crying in front of everyone. The mirror neurons of us, the audience, start lathering on the oxytocin in our brains and we want to cry with him. Anyone in that kind of distress needs our help and we can feel it. But notice the template, meaning this is step number two: bonding.

Now here's Kimmel's variation. He does not move into a message about the issue itself. Instead, he stays in bonding and does a bait and switch. Using some indirection, he makes it clear that we, the audience, should feel guilty because WE are the real reason for his distress. Like an alchemist, he changes pity into guilt.

And if we want to help him stop feeling this distress and stop his tears, if we want to stop feeling guilty, we have to make some changes in our lives. And damn it, we should. We can do this. Enter gun control, etc., etc., etc. (step three, the message). And, to finalize, he wants us to change. We need to embrace our guilt and change to his way of thinking. And we need to do it NOW. (Step four, call to action).

That follows the four persuasion message points to a tee.

But that's copywriting. Why is this in a thread about story wars?

Well, through emotion, Kimmel is actually telling a story. He's the hero (obviously). There is a monster attacking the gates that is on the brink of destroying us all and someone has to fight it. To him, the NRA is the monster with it's greedy greed greed and bribery and black magic destructive curse (guns). But there's an obstacle, a bad one, an almost insurmountable one, standing in his way. What's worse, it's not the monster or the curse.

It's YOU (us), the befuddled complacent villager. You are the fool in the classic monster story who says monsters don't exist. But (weep weep weep), oh the tragedy, the heartache, the pain of it all... (And off he goes with his narrative.)

Notice who is missing as primary characters in this story? The shooter and the shot. They are secondary characters brought up to signal plot points or strengthen an emotion and then immediately retired. 

So here is the template--the emotional template--for this particular toxic form of manipulation and it layers perfectly into any victimization story. 

Get your audience's attention with danger (usually a story situation with a victim or victims) and bond with your audience using pity. Cry (or have the protagonist cry if you are telling it in third person) as you detail the tragedy. After the audience is lathered up and emotionally with you, suddenly accuse the audience itself of being the cause of oppressing the victim. Twist the knife and make the audience feel guilty as all hell. Then show them redemption: your agenda. Then simply finish the story and tell them to get with the program.

Boom. Message delivered directly to the heart and sewn up for good measure. 

A compelling story plus embedded persuasion equals great propaganda. Even brainwashing to a certain extent...

If you do this right, you will move lots of people to your way of thinking (at least for a time) and they will not even know you used a template.

Man, are these late night comics good at what they do...


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  • 3 weeks later...

The following is one of the most important posts on this thread, but it's not involved with storytelling as a persuasion tactic. It's what happens when a false core story gets embedded in a culture, then gets effectively rejected by the scapegoated folks. An entire industry can suffer massive damage. And that is what is happening to Hollywood, the home of an iconic American form of storytelling (movies).

Andrew Breitbart was fond of saying "Politics is downstream from culture." If he were alive, I am sure he would be bursting with pride at the following three-part cultural dissection by Patrick Courrielche and Adryana Cortez on the site he founded.

There are links to the articles, but I recommend the podcast versions, which are more elaborate. Each podcast is a half hour or so--together they take the time of a normal Hollywood movie. But both print and podcast versions are great.


Tinseltown Travelogue Part One - Dear Right Wingers, We Hate You. Love, Hollywood


Tinseltown Travelogue Part Two - Attention All Trump Voters, Immediately Exit Stage Right


Tinseltown Travelogue Part Three - Hollywood…meet The Deplorables


All stories need a villain and all social movement core stories need an even worse villain. They need a scapegoat. (Why is another discussion, but let's leave it as a hard-and-fast-rule for now.)

The one overwhelming "story war" lesson I got from this series is, if you are a propagandist, make sure you scapegoat small groups, preferably defenseless ones, not half the country (more, actually) like Hollywood is doing. A scapegoat archetype works as a villain when it is distant, not when it is your next door neighbor who doesn't look anything like the caricature, but is gradually getting pissed at being demonized. :) 

You can bully a small group. Try to bully over half the country and, after these folks get sick of it, they will kick your ass to Mount Horeb and back. Hollywood is now learning that lesson.


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  • 3 months later...

In any good story that defines and/or moves the culture, you have to have a set of good guys and a set of bad guys. Cultural story wars exist in order to define which is which, but there is no need for these definitions to be connected to reality in order to work. The tribe is the thing for this form of propaganda, not precision of identification.

But what happens when you live in a story war you don't like and want to buck the system of both good-guys and bad-guys? It's not easy.

Good-guy/bad-guy dichotomies are environments where it is extremely difficult to discuss identification openly according to a standard accepted by both sides. For a good example, try to discuss the validity of Israel as a country around pro-Zionists and anti-Zionists. Normally, you get friendly pressure, then nudges, then shoves, then accusations that if you don't hate the other side, that's because you belong there. And then you get attacked.

So, for system buckers like me, what to do? Probably the best thing is is to get off battlefield in a war you do not want to fight and talk to the bystanders instead. That's not possible in a real war, but it is in a cultural war.

Unfortunately, in the current cultural wars (especially story wars) going on in the USA today, most of the people I identify with go about living their lives and believe in getting off the battlefield, too. And so the fanatics get power--not because they beat the bystanders. It's because the bystanders don't fight. Many times, they believe the fanatics sound so stupid, they are no threat to real living. (Then the fanatics get guns and a monopoly on law enforcement and we see what we see...)

So people like me need a new standard to judge fanatics by. And to define fanatics, for that matter. It's not enough to say one shouldn't feel deeply. Of course one should if one values something enough. Intensity of feeling does not define the fanatic. Ideology versus reality does.

So why not use a dichotomy that cuts across all people and is based on the experience all have with the ideology/reality balance? I think I found one: Jordan Greenhall's conservative blue church versus the insurgent red religion. Here is a video where he goes into it a bit:

I just discovered this, so at this very moment, I'm going through Greenhall's Deep Code essays. That means I don't have much to say about them yet. But I will. My initial feeling is that I struck paydirt.

Now, to tie this into story wars and Objectivism, in O-Land, we have our own problems with the blue church and red religion.

From observing and arguing about this stuff for years, it's easy to form an initial evaluation of how folks who follow Rand's thinking to varying degrees fit this pattern. Red religion Objectivists are generally beginners who want to save the world or they turn into innovators and high-end achievers who drop out of any formal Objectivist movement. If red religion beginners allow their initial enthusiasm to lead them to the blue church of power and tradition, though, they generally turn into underachievers or outright control freaks (and sometimes monsters who want to wholesale bomb the crap out of other civilizations they feel are a threat with collateral damage be damned). Of course, this is on a personal character level.

On a social level, I'm not sure Objectivism in its present form is capable of being used as a blueprint for social organization--in reality, not just in theory.

(Rand was right to challenge the morality of altruism as political glue, but I think she often threw the baby out with the bath water in trying to set up selfishness as the other side of a dichotomy. Power-mongers weaponizing morality is evil. Adding moral import to caring about others can be evil or good, depending on context. For that matter, ditto for adding moral import to selfishness. That's a longer discussion, though.)

I know that I am familiar with Rand's ideas and with O-Land people. My underlying belief (once again, cultivated and garnered over years in the subcommunity) is that should a fundamentalist Objectivist ever form a blue church in society, not just in the subcommunity, and gain political power over the population, I would not want to be anywhere near it. I don't want to be an innocent victim or collateral damage and it would break my heart to see Rand's ideas turned into a de facto physical and cultural dictatorship. I am 100% sure that would happen. Blue church fanatics are dictators irrespective of the ideology they hold. Once they get the first taste of the slippery slope of power, I don't trust their moral integrity re the Objectivist ideology.

As to red religion Objectivists who go on to great things, they get too busy living their lives to worry about this stuff.

The closest I have seen to a crossover is President Trump. And, man, does he know how to tell effective stories in the story wars. He has turned the blue church of power he found on arriving into a three-ring circus where blue-churchers turn into four-legged animals and chase their own tails.

More coming on these ideas--but I'm not sure I will keep to Greenhall's metaphors of blue church and red religion. There is no need to establish a new jargon, thus a new church and religion, so to speak. But I like them for now because they provide great images for getting into this new perspective. They are colorful (groan... :) ).

If Rand's ideas (outside her fiction) are to turn into an effective narrative (a story in the story wars familiar to most), one that has a real impact on the culture at large, I believe I have just discovered a signpost pointing to a yellow brick road that leads to a place where that might be possible. I'm going to follow this road for a bit and hope there is more than an impostor behind the curtain when I get to the destination.

As I said, more coming...


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  • 2 months later...

One of the biggest storytelling frames for social change is counterculture populated by rebel archetypes.

I would go so far as to say this is fundamental to the story wars.

Here is a very interesting analysis of modern counterculture from a guy at the forefront of it, Paul Joseph Watson--and in answer to people who used to be (the Comedy Central folks), but have now become the oppressive establishment.



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  • 2 weeks later...

After doing a lot of thinking on core stories, social change through storytelling, propaganda, etc., I came across a video by Tucker Carlson that hits dead center at the core of a truth I don't think even he recognized when he said it.

It's the appeal of religion and how vesting the robe of virtue within a religion fixes a person's self-image as superior to the rest of mankind. And how important a hunger this can become. 

The phrase "us against them" has become so diluted as a cheap shot to dismiss someone that a conviction of superiority is not usually part of the concept when people discuss it. But a sense of inherent superiority, not just a common enemy to hate, is the glue that binds a collective together and makes an individual member turn off his or her brain.

Here's the video. Only the first half relates to my point.

I've provided the transcript of the first half for those who do not want to watch videos (my bold).


In the wake of Eric Schneiderman’s resignation as Attorney General of New York, some of his longtime friends on the left are professing shock.

You've heard them. “We just can't believe it,” they say. “How could a man so publicly committed to feminism beat women? It just doesn't make sense.” 

But of course it makes perfect sense. Self-righteousness is always a marker for secret creepiness. The people yelling the loudest are usually hiding the most. Keep that in mind the next time you hear some Democratic politician lecturing you about your moral inferiority. That's the guy you need to watch carefully. Chances are he's up to something awful behind closed doors. 

Hypocrisy isn't just a feature of modern liberalism. It's the heart of modern liberalism. 

Ever wonder how people who advocate for abortion can say they stand for children? How a movement that demonizes an entire race can claim to oppose racism? The same way Al Gore can travel by private jet while trying to ban your SUV…

Because consistency does not matter to the left. Only virtue matters. We're good people, therefore we must rule. You are not, therefore you must obey. 

Al Gore doesn't believe he's a hypocrite. Eric Schneiderman probably doesn't think he is, either. You can't commit sin if your intentions are pure and liberals believe their intentions are the purest. 

If that sounds like theology and not public policy, that's because it is theology. Modern liberalism is a religious movement. It's a replacement for the Protestant Christianity that the left works so hard to undermine and destroy. 

Liberals are speaking a language of faith, albeit a faith without God. This is the main reason that right and left talk past each other; the reason our public debates are so weird and unsatisfying. One side arrives with facts and stats and arguments, the other brags about its decency. One side is trying to convince, the other is trying to convert. 

You can beat a liberal in an argument, but you can never convince him that you won. He cares much more deeply than you do, and therefore he knows he's right by definition. And nothing can convince him otherwise. 

Somewhere tonight Eric Schneiderman is marinating in his shame—probably unshaven and alone. His career is over. His reputation is destroyed. He faces years of potential legal action. He is a broken man. He is in agony. And, yet, on some level, despite all of that, Eric Schneiderman still knows he's a better person than you are.

I don't want to go into Schneiderman's woes in this post, nor even in the shortcomings of liberalism.

I want to step back and look at a bigger picture: how religion, and specifically virtue according to a religion, makes a person feel innately better than others, and blind to any shortcomings of the group held together by that religion.


Neuroscience part

On a neuroscience and psychological level, I know there are orienting neurons in our brains. They are on or near the hippocampus and they generally control the trigger to entire neural networks. (The term for when they kick in hard is "snapping.") Given the modular nature of the human brain, when these neurons fire at the right time, they create some powerful cognitive biases. Another way of saying it is they establish the filter or frame from which a person observes and evaluates all the rest at that moment.

An example is a threat to life. When the neurons that focus on threats to life are triggered, a person will see a shadow at night a lot differently than if the neurons that focus on mating are in control. The first will suggest a predator and the second a potential for much safer and nicer things.

I'm not sure how much conceit has been studied on this level, but I bet some neurons that control feelings of self-worth are right in same the vicinity. If they are programmed to believe the person is better than others and given reinforcement through stories (which engage huge different neural networks humming along with each other in parallel), group identification, peer pressure, virtue, and so on--including, of course, the person consciously agreeing with all this--these neurons will eventually stay in the "on" position all during conscious awareness. As soon as a person wakes up, these neurons will kick in. And, if so, a specific kind of conceit will become the main filter through which the person sees the rest of the world, including all the people in it, all the time and in all contexts.


Religions and virtue

All religions and all ideological systems use virtue as adherence glue. If one follows the religion and/or ideology, one is virtuous. And being virtuous is, by definition, being superior to the non-virtuous.

As I've studied the Bible recently (and am still studying it--btw - it's a great book), it has become clear to me that sin and evil are different concepts in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Sin means, fundamentally, not obeying God (who never seems to lack for representatives in each respective religion to speak in His name). The meaning of evil is a lot looser and can apply to those outside the religion. Notice how the word "sin" is not used as much for outsiders. But evil is commonly used for everybody.

However, all people are sinners in the Abrahamic religions. Why? Because they commit evil? Not so much. It's because they don't obey God and/or have patches where they don't want to obey God.

Within this condition, if a person who obeys (or tries to obey) God commits evil, such person is fixable. When a person who does not and does not want to obey God commits evil, this person is irredeemable--at least until the obeying God part gets in order.

This automatically sets up one set of people as virtuous while all others are not--and that makes the virtuous ones superior to the rest of mankind. Not by merit, but by definition.


Wider application

As Tucker noticed above, liberalism has this same way of thinking, except, instead of obeying God, they have to obey collectivism (the term for which constantly changes). And I say Objectivism is shot full of people (not all) who think this way, except instead of obeying God, they have to obey reason according to the characteristics Rand attributed to it. This obedience--a conscious acceptance of a wish to obey--constitutes virtue. Not any other action. And, this, by default, makes the person superior to others, both in his own eyes and in the eyes of his religious or ideological group.

This virtue and superiority belief gets so reinforced day in and day out, the believer begins to hold it with such certainty, it takes on the characteristic in his mind of an absolute inherent truth. Not to be questioned. He, the individual member of this group, is more worthy of living that all other individuals in all other groups because he is a better sort of human.

Notice that this is different than one group being objectively superior to another. That depends on the main functions of the group and that means the superiority of any group cannot be divorced from its functions. Is a group of factory workers superior to a group of dirt-poor farmers at producing wealth? Of course, but you cannot remove the factory, the dirt-poor farms, or wealth from these groups and still maintain this superiority. In a sense, this applies to individuals, too. Is a virtuoso trumpet player superior to a beginner at playing the trumpet? Yup. But is he a superior human being?

And therein lies the crux of the issue. He is not, but there is a set of neurons that can become distorted to make him believe he and the beginner are superior to all other non-trumpet humans just because they believe in trumpetness.


Story wars

So why is this important to story wars?

Well, all stories need a theme to be persuasive. The strongest theme--the strongest one by far--you can layer into story propaganda is a message that the person who adheres to the propaganda is superior to everyone else. People, by the way the brain is made, already want to believe they are inherently superior. All they need is a push. It's like an addictive drug. It feels real good at the start, but soon becomes a hunger, then a craving. Then, an axiom of existence...

I think I detected this early in my life, but I had a different way of saying it back then. I used to say that the worst racism the world has ever seen was not against blacks. It was pro-Germans and resulted in two world wars.

I now extend this to the individuals any in-group seeking social power, whether large or small, and trying to conquer minds and souls through story.

If you start detecting that, just by belonging to a group and swearing allegiance to the group's god, whatever it is, you, too, can inherently be a better human than everyone else and more worthy to live, you are looking at pretty good propaganda. Tread carefully if you do not want to fall into the trap of losing control of your brain and letting others run it.

Or you can use this knowledge to manipulate others if you are an evil jerk.


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22 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

On a neuroscience and psychological level...

I didn't go into the psychological part.

The core of the conceit I talked about in the previous post is called the Dunning-Kruger effect. This is a cognitive bias everyone has where they imagine they perform better in relation to other people than they actually do. This is shown in studies that consistently show about 60-70% of the people surveyed consider themselves within the top 5% of an activity, say, like driving. Obviously, not all 60-70% can be in the top 5%, so that means people evaluate themselves incorrectly.

We all have this tendency and those who become true experts at something know what it is to fight it.

The propaganda of conceit (appealing to people as the "chosen ones" or "superior ones") leverages this cognitive bias.

Do you want to get people's attention and get them to agree with you when they don't fully understand something? Talk to them as if they were superior. it's that simple and that's how it works.

Now let's have some fun.

Nowhere is this effect more evident than in looking at the people who discuss it online while applying it to politics. To start with, the very term "Dunning-Kruger effect" sounds technical and snooty, so it's not a term that appeals to the layperson. It does appeal, however, to more intellectually-oriented folks who think they are better than others at being intellectual, better than they actually are. And this can get cartoon-level funny

As I was looking around to see what was out there, I kept coming across person after person who claimed President Trump suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect. I can see how they got taken in because President Trump likes to brag and exaggerate. But their blindness to their own vulnerability to this cognitive bias does not allow them to consider any positive explanation for President Trump's behavior. And it allows them to blank out his achievements altogether.

The people who look down on President Trump and label him with this technical-sounding term are the same who claimed he would never win the primaries, would never win the Presidency, would never get the tax bill passed, would never do this, would never do that. And this time they got him with whatever hairbrained scheme their propagandists came up with, over and over and over, while he keeps remaining ungot, over and over and over.

In other words, these people see themselves as far more intelligent and far more competent than President Trump. They can even use a technical term to describe him that they are certain to themselves he has never heard of. But they ignore how wrong they have consistently been about him and his accomplishments over months and years. And they ignore how the people they admire have not managed to achieve the things he has (for example, North Korea anyone?).

So these so-called experts, who constantly wipe egg off their faces re President Trump, constantly tell us how bad he is with eggs. If that isn't a good example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, I don't know what is. :) 

Do you want to lead these people around by the nose through story wars? This conceit theme is one of the most powerful ones you can choose and it's easy to embed in your stories, as President Trump shows day in and day out. Feed your target stories where they can believe in their own superiority, add something obvious and outrageous they think proves it, and include more hidden elements that disprove it. If you are willing to pretend you are the dummy, like Trump does all the time, they will go nuts and talk about nothing else all day long.




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Styxhexenhammer weighs in on the North Korea bluff ...

On 5/11/2018 at 6:08 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Feed your target stories where they can believe in their own superiority, add something obvious and outrageous they think proves it, and include more hidden elements that disprove it.



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Does that dude have a tattoo of a butterfly on his ass? Is he Asian American? What’s with the leather jacket, no shirt, and hair everywhere? A snake and a spoon on the wall? Cusses and drinks a glass mug of coffee with the spoon still in it? Surprisingly the guy makes sense at times. I liked his thought when he said the next drills we hold could be with a unified Korea. If we don't hold a "drill" with South Korea we would have more ammo and gas on hand, if the North doesn't pan out or gets more belligerent.   

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1 hour ago, Peter said:

Does that dude have a tattoo of a butterfly on his ass? Is he Asian American? What’s with the leather jacket, no shirt, and hair everywhere? A snake and a spoon on the wall? Cusses and drinks a glass mug of coffee with the spoon still in it? Surprisingly the guy makes sense at times.

John Lennon Jesus look. With Satanic undertones.


I don't know the reason for his visual focus on trying to expand the threshold limits of the dictum, you can't judge a book by its cover, but there it is.

Maybe he's worried he will get old and fat later in life and look like Rush Limbaugh and it's a subconscious reaction. :) 


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Fake Russian Ads Stoked Racial Tensions -- Race-Hustling Democrats 'Colluded' by Larry Elder Posted: May 17, 2018 12:01 AM.

President Donald Trump rejects the narrative that Russia wanted him to win. USA Today examined each of the 3,517 Facebook ads bought by the Russian-based Internet Research Agency, the company that employed 12 of the 13 Russians indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for interfering with the 2016 election. It turns out only about 100 of its ads explicitly endorsed Trump or opposed Hillary Clinton.

Most of the fake ads focused on racial division, with many of the ads attempting to exploit what Russia perceives, or wants America to perceive, as severe racial tension between blacks and whites . . . .

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18 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:


Let's suppose 10 voters got swayed to vote for Trump instead of Clinton per ad (which is unrealistically optimistic). That means Russia managed to move a maximum of about 35,000 votes over to Trump. What a landslide. :evil:  :) 


Ah, when I think of election night the band in my head starts playing like a Sousa march, "Happy Days Are Here Again."

This is not relevant but I was looking at the bald lady in one of your ads, which makes her look like an alien or from the future. If future generations lose their hair, it will be from evolution, but I can't think of any evolutionary reason to lose that trait, except if the air temperature increases. Yet I have shaved my head a few times and I don't think I was any cooler, but it is easier to wipe off sweat.    

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